Agenda Item No. 9


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Scrutiny Committee [Lifelong Learning]:  11th November 2013            


Report of the Chief Learning and Skills Officer


School Support Programme: 2013 - 2014


Purpose of the Report

1.             To provide Members with an overview of the School Support Programme.


1.             That Members note support offered to schools to help them improve.

Reason for the Recommendation

1.             Members are aware of support offered to help schools improve.


2.             The analysis of school performance data takes place at various junctures between July and December of every academic year.

3.             Analysis reflects the time points at which various forms of data become available, usually via DEWI:

·         Initial, non-validated teacher assessment in June and July;

·         Validated teacher assessment late July

·         All Wales comparative information in August

·         GCSE and A Level data in August (WJEC only)

·         School comparative information and benchmarking towards the end of August

·         National and local Authority results by the end of August

·         KS 4 final data by the mid-November

·         Secondary school Banding by the end of November

4.             This means that performance reporting for the various Key Stages will be carried out throughout the months of July to December.

5.             However, school improvement support work needs to be implemented early in the autumn term, which is why, early analysis and "diagnosis of need’ is carried out in August to underpin planned school improvement work in September.

6.             School performance findings feed into the commissioned Support Programme from LINKS as well as into the Challenge, Monitor and Intervention (CMI) Programme delivered by the JES through the work of System Leaders (SLs). Appendix 1: School Support Programme. Appendix 2: Overview.

7.             Clearly, as comparative information becomes available, programmes will need to be adapted to accommodate new diagnoses of need for certain schools. This element will also be progressed through the more detailed work of System Leaders, engaging in challenging professional dialogue with schools during the autumn term visits, setting stretching targets for pupil groups e.g. +1 levels, vulnerable learners, pupils presenting with SEN/ALN needs including the more able.

8.             Successful school improvement work occurs when the work of those providing support is seamlessly dovetailed into the work of System Leaders exerting the challenge.

9.             The challenge, monitoring and intervention functions (CMI) are commissioned jointly with our partner LAs in central South Consortium, whilst the support function is commissioned separately and directly by each constituent LA using the 20% retained School Effectiveness Grant (SEG), now managed through the JES.

10.        To secure high levels of school improvement effectiveness, the content of Support Programmes need to reflect the performance profile and improvement priorities of the LA and needs to build on what has gone on before.

11.        Introduction of one support programme in one school, in one year e.g. Big Write, may need to be followed up with a sharper focus on implementation and effective leadership of that initiative during the following year. The extent and nature of such support will largely be determined by the school’s performance profile, which is scrutinised at the end of every academic year. Appendix 3: School by school support.

12.        The National agenda for school improvement as set out in the Improving Schools Plan 2012 -2014 as well as the more recent findings of the Hill Report, illustrate the changing educational landscape of Wales and provides an effective backdrop for regional and local School Improvement (SI) Strategic Plans.

13.        The regional SI Plan, as well as regional improvement plans for Literacy and Numeracy, provide greater  context, but it is the performance profile of schools (and hence learners) in the Vale which provide the greatest focus for our work to improve outcomes.

14.        Our pan - Wales ambition to attain 65% Level 2+ provides further guidance to schools and the LA. This target has been used regionally to provide strategic direction to constituent LAs to help determine their performance contribution. Translation of this contribution into stretching targets for individual schools will be an important element of the work of SLs in the autumn term round of target setting.

15.        School and LA inspection findings will also need to feed into improvement plans and action plans at school, service and team level.

16.        The implementation of an iterative planning process between the Vale Head of School Improvement (HOS), Lead Officer for School Improvement, Lead Officer for Inclusion, Senior System Leader (SL) in the JES and Strategic Lead for SEG, engaging professional judgement and decisions about "what works" is key to effective school improvement planning.

17.        The sharing of improvement intentions and aspirations for individual schools with the System Leader Team in JES, is also a key component of effective school improvement processes. This is achieved during regular start and end of term focus and feedback meetings.

18.        Therefore, the result of these initial analyses underpins the following:

·         Provides the rationale for targeted improvement work detailed in the School Support Programme for 2013/14 and commissioned from the regional Joint Education Service (JES and LinkS)

·         Informs the next round of target setting undertaken by System Leaders (SLs) during the Autumn term and hence provides a measure of the extent of challenge required of individual schools, and

·         Informs the work of the School Improvement and Inclusion Service with the ultimate aim of improving outcomes and wellbeing for all pupils.

19.        The process of designing and implementing school support takes the form of Project Management. Projects are designed and captured on a Project Initiation Document (PID). Planning to evaluate the impact of support to schools is undertaken at the PID stage. Appendix 4: PID selection.

20.        Impact evaluation time points need to coincide with Welsh Government (WG) requests for Interim Reports on SEG spend. This means that interim impact will need to be identified towards the end of February as well as at the end of the academic year when end of Key Stage teacher assessment and Reading Test results are known.

21.        It is important that SLs working in Vale schools are also made aware of all support programmes being delivered in individual schools. This is achieved through the attendance of Lead SLs (one from LINKS and one from JES) at the start and end of term Feedback and Focus meetings. These meetings take place in Ty Dysgu and are chaired by the HOS of the Vale.

22.        During these meetings, information is shared, programmes are adjusted as necessary and schools are re-categorised for further support and challenge as appropriate.

Relevant Issues and Options

23.        Welsh Government data returns from individual schools are scrutinised and data analysed at attainment target level (AT) i.e. teacher assessment (TA) for individual pupils for writing, reading, oracy and maths.

24.        Underachievement is identified where there are discrepancies between TA for each set of ATs. i.e. discrepancy between TA for oracy/reading and for that of writing for example.

25.        Reading Test results for individual schools is also analysed; schools with large pupil numbers reading at less than 85 Age Standardised Score (SS) are identified for support.

26.        A disproportionate number of pupils functioning below expectations at L4 in writing/reading and maths in KS3, Level 3 in KS2 and Outcome 4 in Foundation Phase, also trigger the need for further targeted work with the school.

27.        Schools requiring improvements to be made in writing, reading and maths, either separately or in combination, are identified. These schools will form the basis for further targeted work in the coming academic year.

28.        The LA has successfully implemented the Big Write/Big Maths support programmes for the previous 3 years. Outcomes have improved in all key Stages but there is more work to be done. Scrutiny of individual school outcomes reveal potential concerns in some schools i.e. not improving enough compared to other schools, discrepancies still evident, large pupil numbers with low scores etc.

29.        The KS 3 / 4 Improvement Strategy sets out the actions to be undertaken by the providers of the commissioned support (Action Plan). These actions will form the basis of each delivery plan, for each sub-project, within the overall Support Programme. The KS 3 Improvement Strategy has been reported to this committee previously.

30.        The Support Programme needs to work in parallel with complimentary support currently being offered to schools on a national basis i.e. National Support Programme (NSP) delivered by CfBT, further enhanced by a team of Buddy Partners (BPs) operating out of the JES commissioned by partner LAs.

31.        The national Outstanding Teachers of Literacy and Numeracy (OTL/OTN) Schemes will also need to be accommodated in the Support Programme to ensure coherence and clarity of focus in maintained. Within this scheme Vale OTLs and OTNs will be deployed to Vale schools and elsewhere, as appropriate.

32.        The need to improve reading, (as determined by the results of the first national reading tests) will also need to be accommodated in the Support Programme, as will the need to improve oracy, particularly in our very young pupils.

33.        The Vale model of supporting schools through the Catch-up reading schemes (Catch-Up Literacy CUL) will also need to be harnessed within the Vale School Support Programme.

34.        Improving attendance via the implementation of the Callio Model will also be addressed within the Programme.

35.        The on-going CMI work of System Leaders will clearly need to be a strong feature within the Support Programme as a whole, being complimentary and fundamental to our work to improve outcomes and wellbeing. The crucial importance of increased challenge, in identified schools, will be paramount.

36.        Much work has been done to date, but more needs to be done to improve the extent of challenge, via the target setting process, in identified schools. This information is captured in the various analyses of target/actual variance appended.

37.        The necessary data analysis work, outlining the scrutiny of targets compared to actual performance and predictions of performance also underpins the School Support programme rationale.

38.        This work will be shared with SLs prior to the autumn round of school meetings and next round of target setting. Challenging targets must be set for schools with a clear rationale, based on predications of previous performance, underpinning them. This work will be crucial if standards are to improve further.

39.        Data Analyses has been undertaken as follows:

·         Primary school data has been analysed at attainment target level for reading, writing and maths in KS 2 and for Language, Literacy and Communication (LLC) in the Foundation Phase. Schools have been identified for additional and targeted support

·         Reading Test data has been analysed for pupils in Years 2 to Year 9; those schools with significant numbers of pupils with an Age SS of less than 85 have been identified as being in need of targeted support

·         Schools with significant numbers of pupils underachieving in Maths at Outcome 4 in Yr 2 of the Foundation Phase, Level 3 in Yr 6 of KS 2 and L4 in Y9 of KS 3, have also been identified as being in need of further support.

·         Schools in need of specific targeted support for writing, reading and maths, separately or in combination, have been identified.

·         Secondary school targets have been analysed to determine the extent of alignment and correlation with both Welsh Government (WG 1 and 2b) Models of expectation and FFT B-D predications of future performance.

·         Secondary school performance has been analysed to evaluate the extent to which they exceed (or otherwise) both the WG Models and FFT B-D models/predictions of performance.

·         Secondary school performance has been analysed to determine the extent to which performance exceeds targets set, or otherwise.

·         School performance has been compared to school targets to determine the extent of variance and the extent to which targets were suitably challenging, or not.

·         The aforementioned will be used to inform future target setting in the next autumn term round for 13/14 – i.e. minimum targets have already been determined for individual schools.

·         The degree of variance between WG Models and FFT B-D predications of future performance has also been analysed – findings will inform the next round of target setting with schools.

·         LA targets and performance have been compared to WG model predictions to better inform the next round of target setting with schools in the Autumn term 2013.

40.        Standards overall at the end of the Foundation Phase, Key Stage 2 and 3 have improved on previous years. Comparative information with Wales will be known and reported in due course.

41.        Targets set for school performance for 12/13 were appropriate for most, but not all schools, particularly secondary schools.

42.        Targets set for secondary schools, in future, must accord to a far greater extent with WG Models and the top end of FFT B – D predications of future performance. Too many schools set targets towards the low end of the FFT B- D range.

43.        The regional target setting process, particularly for secondary schools, must allow for greater LA scrutiny, before any targets are finalised with schools.

44.        Support for schools must be specific to their need.

45.        Support must continue to be sub-divided and identified for writing, reading, number and oracy separately, and targeted relentlessly. There must be no dilution of the targeted only approach, in any form.

46.        Overall, standards in English in Foundation Phase, KS 2 and KS 3 have improved on the previous year. KS 4 performance needs to improve – report to this committee is to follow.

47.        Big Write and Big Maths support programmes have now been rolled out to all schools.

48.        However, it is clear that some learners, in some schools, are still underachieving in writing. This is still being masked by relatively high achievement in English overall.  Learners writing at outcome 4 in the Foundation Phase (Yr 2), level 3 (Yr 6) in KS2 and level 4 (Yr 9) in KS3 are underachieving.

49.        A list of schools has been compiled where underachievement has been identified. This will form the targeted support list for writing and will feature as an appendix to the School Support Programme. Commissioned work to improve writing will focus on these schools only.

50.        A similar approach has been used to identify schools for further support to improve reading and maths in all three Key Stages. Reading test data has been analysed and groups of pupils, in individual schools identified for further targeted support. These lists and pupil numbers will underpin all targeted support work with individual schools.

51.        The variance between targets set by schools and their actual performance has been analysed. Schools setting low targets compared to actual performance and those setting correspondingly high targets compared to actual performance have been identified for further work.

52.        High variance is indicative of weak teacher assessment and poor consistency of teacher assessment across the school. Poor consistency accords with a lack of knowledge about a learner’s learning needs, their need for support and any additional challenge, as well as their resource needs.

53.        Where such needs remain unmet, learning is usually compromised. This manifests itself in low standards, as learner needs are not wholly accommodated and hence learner progress becomes unattainable, for a few, or many.

54.        Persistent high variance becomes indicative of an endemic culture of low achievement.

55.        Left undetected, persistent and overly aspirational target setting schools, have downward spiralling standards, as learners’ needs are left wholly unmet.

56.        Persistently low target setting schools, are also characterised by low standards, as low expectations permeate the school culture and learners’ needs and need for challenge, again are left wholly unmet. In schools where this has been detected and challenged, standards have improved.

57.        In the Vale, high variance is a recognised trigger for intervention and there is an improving trend of variance reduction, coupled with improving standards over time. This is always a closely monitored aspect of school improvement in the Vale. In summary, schools with high variance and low standards have been identified.

58.        Provisional floor targets have been devised in advance of the target setting process. These will be shared with SLs during the SL Focus Meeting with the JES early in the Autumn term 2013.

59.        Welsh Government produces predications of future performance during the autumn term of every academic year. These predications are based on pupil performance in Year 6 KS2 and in Year 9 of KS 3. Predictions are contextualised according to the challenges faced in individual schools.

60.        Two models are produced, one without the contextualisation factor included and other with. These are entitled WG Model 1 and 2b respectively.

61.        Additionally, Fisher Family Trust (FFT) also produces models of predicted performance. These models are also contextualised but to a much finer degree.

62.        FFT produces models based on a range form FFT B to FFT D being the most challenging prediction of future performance.

63.        Both models are based on prior attainment of known pupils. Both differ in the degree of challenge. However, what is clear is that the most challenging prediction should always be used when agreeing targets with schools.

64.        FFT D has been agreed with the JES as the preferred model for use in our schools.

65.        This means that SLs should use FFT D predictions to set more challenging targets for schools. Additionally, SLs (and LAs), must ensure that targets are set at the high end of the FFT D range before agreeing them with schools. SLs need also to check that the agreed target also meets, or exceeds the most appropriate WG model prediction of future performance.

66.        It is clear from the analysis undertaken, that our highest performing schools routinely set targets that are aligned with both WG and FFT D models, whilst our lowest performing schools set targets which are at the low end of FFT B-D range and often do not also accord with WG models.

67.        However, in 2013, some of our lowest performing schools, which set targets towards the low end of FFT B-D, exceeded them significantly in the June when teacher assessment of actual performance in KS 3 became available.

68.        Additionally, in these schools, their actual performance in the June significantly exceeded their FFT B-D and WG model predications (with the exception of BC, BH and Cowbridge).

69.        This aspect must be addressed in the next target setting round with all schools.

70.        In summary, all targets in all schools must accord with both FFT D and WG models of predicted performance.

71.        The performance in all schools, with the exception of Cowbridge and Barry Comp (CSI), exceeded their own school targets. However, the appropriateness of some targets, in some schools, must be addressed in the next round.

School Support Programme: 2013 – 2015


72.        Improvement priorities are outlined below:

·         reduce FSM/non FSM achievement gap;

·         improve Reading, Writing and Maths in combination and separately;

·         improve attainment at the +1 levels in all KS;

·         Improve attainemnt in the KS 4 L2+;

·         Improve attainment in all core subjects in KS3;

·         improve attendance via the Callio Strategy.


73.        These may be further sub-divided as follows:

·         Improve Number Skills - identified pupils underachieving in all KS

·         Improve standards of Oracy

·         Improve Reading Skills - identified pupils <85 Age SS in all KS and all Yr Gps.

·         Improve outcomes at KS3 and 4

·         Increase level of challenge via  target setting :  WG models and FFT D particularly at +1, - KS3 core, L2 English, Maths and Science, L2+, attendance, FSM

·         Improve Attendance and Wellbeing

·         Improve Writing Skills - identified pupils underachieving in all KS

74.        The draft School Support Programme Map aims to capture the aforementioned strands and combine as a coherent whole to be used for planning purposes with LA and JES based teams.

75.        Importantly, the programme aims to combine nationally delivered support programmes i.e. National Support Programme for Literacy and Numeracy, Outstanding Teachers of Literacy and Numeracy, with the targeted approach for identified schools which is based on this LAs performance profile as outlined above.

76.        A large degree of coherence must be designed into the overall programme so that one element compliments and reinforces the other. The overall programme must demonstrate strong coherence. This aspect must be closely monitored throughout the implementation phase. 

77.        Project Initiation Documents (PIDs) have been devised via an iterative process between the Vale and the JES. Costs, outcomes, impact, monitoring processes and delivery models will be designed and agreed before final sign-off for implementation early in September.

78.        The programme must be designed and delivered within budget which is £322, 033.

79.        Financial monitoring and programme implementation will be undertaken every half term by Vale and JES officers.

80.        Final impact will be evaluated next June 2014 through end of Key Stage statutory teacher assessment and KS 4, 5 exam results.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

81.        Commissioned work from the JES must remain within budget as determined by the amount equivalent to the 20% retained SEG (£322K).

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

82.        There are no sustainability and climate change implications.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

83.        End of Key Stage Assessment is a statutory obligation.

84.        The statutory assessment arrangements are based on the following:

·         The National Curriculum (end of foundation phase assessment arrangements and revocation of the first key stage assessment arrangements (Wales) Order 2011;

·         The National Curriculum (key stage two assessment arrangements) (Wales) Order 2004;

·         The National Curriculum (key stage three assessment arrangements) (Wales) Order 2005;

·         The Education (Pupil Information) (Wales) Regulations 2011.

85.        The Orders are made by Welsh Ministers in exercise of the powers conferred upon them and of the Education Act 2002.

Crime and Disorder Implications

86.        There are no crime and disorder implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

87.        There are no equal opportunity implications.

Corporate/Service Objectives

88.        Improving outcomes and wellbeing for all learners.

Policy Framework and Budget

89.        The recommendations in this report are within the existing policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

90.        Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

91.        Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

National Literacy Framework

National Numeracy Framework

National Model for School Improvement

Contact Officer

Lynette Jones, Head of School Improvement and Inclusion

Officers Consulted

Meryl Plummer, Lead Officer for School Improvement

David Davies, Lead Officer for Inclusion

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer